When I hung out with friends in Korea Town back in my single days living in New York City, one of the places I had frequently visited as Take31, a Korean bar that had pretty decent anju (bar food). Take31, along with its sister Korean restaurant Her Name is Han (which I had visited once before with mixed results; see my previous review here https://kenscale.com/2016/01/29/her-name-is-han/), is still quite a popular destination for New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike. When I heard the same restaurant group opening up a new project focusing on Korean version of hot pot (jeongol), I had saved it for a future visit with a group of people. Recently, my wife Jun and I finally got a chance to visit On (or o:n° according to the restaurant) with a friend and her newly engaged fiancé. Overall, it was a very solid dinner some playful takes on Korean traditional cuisine without compromising its identity.
While On seems to be branding itself as a Korean hot pot restaurant, you really shouldn’t overlook their small plates. While friend jalapeno chicken could’ve been a little bit more crispy on the outside, everyone really loved the grilled short rib patty with glass noodles and enoki mushroom that was inspired by a beloved Korean dish called ddeokgalbi, with impeccable texture of the meat (full disclosure: not sure why (maybe because the restaurant learned that all four people at the table are Koreans so they felt they had an obligation to bring out extra dishes to make sure we were well taken care of?), but we were treated with a bunch of freebies, including the short ribs, a carabineros shrimp dish and the two desserts discussed later). Lobster chohoe (think raw Maine lobster with ice plant, shallot and radicchio) was refreshing, and the yukgaejang noodles that the kitchen brought out as a Korean version of fettucine pasta with brisket, mushrooms and chili oil were quite outstanding as well, with a spicy kick that was just about right.
Before moving on to the hot pot, we decided to share one large dish, oxtail suyuk with Korean chive, and it turned out to be a wise choice, as the assortment of oxtail, brisket and tendon worked quite well as a dish to share and the flavor was well-balanced. On to the hot pot, we ordered the one with mushroom and bulgogi (using prime striploin beef). It was a good dish, but perhaps not as memorable as some of the appetizers we started our meal with. It did help to have a couple of well-cooked rice pots (one with mushrooms and the other with branzino which turned out to be quite delicious) to accompany the jeongol. For desserts, the mille-feuille made of yakgwa (a type of Korean deep-fried cookie) flavor was quite delightful, and the refreshing pear shaved ice was also a dish that everyone at the table liked.
Getting a reservation at On wasn’t too difficult for our Thursday dinner, although the dining room got full over time. There is full bar with some well-crafted cocktails and a thoughtful wine list (along with other traditional Korean beverages like soju) that will do well to complement your meal. The trendy setting of the restaurant’s décor and ambiance makes it ideal for a variety of occasions for casual dinners. I think On has a lot of promise as one of the better modern Korean restaurants in the city (nowadays there is quite a few but the level of quality among these newcomers in the dining scene can be pretty uneven), with smart ideas on how to bring the Korean food forward to the 21st century as well as consistent execution of dishes across the board with no major hiccups.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 110 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Telephone: (917) 261-4326